Located near the Asian Civilisation Museum, the distinctive, needle-like form of the Dalhousie Obelisk makes it easy to spot from afar.

Built in February 1850, this monument was the island’s first public statue, and hearkens back to a time when the island was governed from Bengal, as part of the Straits Settlements. It marked Singapore’s second visit from Lord James Andrew, the Marquis of Dalhousie and Governor-General of India.

Lord James visit was closely watched, as it anticipated a change in local administration and the slashing of expenditure.

Inspired by a “needle”
Inscriptions on a plaque at the Dalhousie Obelisk

Photo by Joel Chua DY

Designed by Government Surveyor John Turnbull Thomson, the Dalhousie Obelisk was built to remind merchants of the benefits of free trade.

Thought to be modelled after the famous Cleopatra’s Needle in London, the structure was completed by the end of 1850. See if you are able to spot the inscriptions in Jawi, Chinese, Tamil and English on each side.

Its four decorative pinnacle lamps make it a pretty spot for a quick selfie or photo opportunity in the historic Civic District.

Twice moved
Inscriptions on a plaque at the Dalhousie Obelisk

Photo by Joel Chua DY

Dalhousie Obelisk was first moved in the late 1880s following land reclamation work for the expansion of the Padang and the construction of New Esplanade Road.

In 1891, it was shifted again to its present location near Victoria Theatre.